From AKP-BDP peace process to AKP-BDP charter: Can Turkey handle it?

From AKP-BDP peace process to AKP-BDP charter: Can Turkey handle it?

There are three very important ongoing processes that could make Turkey stronger, more democratic, stable and prosperous in case of the simultaneous success of all of them with the participation of all relevant political parties and civil society.

The first one is the resolution process aiming to end the four-decade-old Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) armed struggle by granting some political and cultural rights to Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent. With observations that there is general public support for the government’s efforts, there are still concerns voiced by the PKK chieftains on how to carry out a secure retreat of its members from Turkish territories to northern Iraq. On the other hand, a significant number of political parties and civil society organizations express their beliefs that this will only lead to the division of Turkey.

The second process should always be considered the EU accession talks. The EU process helped Turkey a lot to upgrade its human rights and democratic norms in the last decade, making its results more visible in many fields.

The third process is about the new Constitution. The four parties represented in Parliament are about to conclude their term within weeks, not days. The draft charters they submitted last week have shown how the four parties were on different pages when it came to some crucial articles like on definition of citizenship, on the administrative system or on general characteristics of the state.

Among many others, the commission’s nearly two-year experience showed once again the lack of a culture of compromise in Turkish politics. Disagreeing on a mostly agreed and publicly supported issue should be unique to the Turkish political system. And its most crucial consequence is its disability to create a societal consensus on resolving many vital problems of the country.

On the peace process, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are left alone by two oppositional parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). As the CHP’s opposition to the process is only for methodological reasons, the ruling party is still trying to let it be involved in the process in a bid to break future resistance to ongoing efforts.

A similar picture is valid when it comes to drafting the new Constitution. The talk in the town is that the AKP will likely make an alliance with the BDP at the expense of facing criticisms that it won’t bring about a product to be embraced by public opinion. In fact, this concern is highly discussed among AKP officials, who underscore that their most preferred partner is not the BDP, especially at a moment when they are in talks with the PKK’s leadership.

That’s why the decision of the commission late April 8 not to end its work is very valuable; if it’s a reflection of the ruling party’s intention to push a compromised charter all the way through, even more valuable.